The San Bernardino shooting is the latest massacre to grip the headlines in the US. The shooting comes weeks after the Paris attacks and exemplifies the reason why gun laws within America need to change.
The second amendment grants the citizens in the US the right to bear arms. It is one of the greatest liberties granted towards US citizens. However, when there have been over 300 massacres and over 10,000 people killed by guns this year, it shows that the laws of the nation are no longer protecting the nation’s citizens. Every time an event like this happens politicians immediately highlight the need for change, yet every time the result is the same – nothing.
With the 2016 Presidential elections coming up, gun control is one of the most talked about issues between the candidates and parties. The Democrat front-runners have indicated that they will increase background checks and introduce a restriction of supply in regards to certain guns, yet many Republicans on the other hand seem inclined to leave gun laws how they are, with some going as far as saying that the laws are too strict already, as they believe that it’s not the guns causing the problems but the people.
Having a Democrat president, in this sense, would hopefully be a catalyst for change. In such a partisan era of American politics, and one where the Republicans control Congress, it seems almost utopian to imagine any changes in firearms law at federal level. Only recently were two bills defeated in the Senate, ones that would have increased background checks and would have prohibited the sale of firearms to people on the FBI ‘no fly’ list. Only one Republican supported the bill and only one Democrat voted against it, highlighting the partisan nature of American politics and demonstrating that as long as congress is controlled by Republicans, gun laws will most likely remain unchanged.
The problem is not just restricted to Republicans, however. Across both chambers, many politicians – both Democrats and Republicans – are financially backed by the National Rifle Association. The NRA is arguably one the most influential political lobbying groups in America; it spent over $30million in the 2014 electoral cycle and with 5 million members it has the financial power and membership size to be a significant voice within the US. With these factors the NRA can easily dwarf its competitors in regards to campaign contributions or lobbying, thereby ensuring it has the policies and politicians that further its cause.
If such trends continue within American politics, then the scenes witnessed in San Bernardino will continue. The Elections in 2016 can be a turning point but if Republican voters stay fixed in their mentality and the composition of Congress stays the same then progression in gun control laws will not be achievable in America and individual liberty will surpass national security.